Donations Amid Disaster: 3 Nonprofit Marketing Strategies That Work
"Puerto Rico Entirely Without Power as Hurricane Maria Hammers Island With Devastating Force"
"Catastrophe: Inundated Houston Faces an ‘Unprecedented’ 50 Inches of Rain"
"17 Slain by Gunman at Broward School"
These are just a few of the many tragic headlines from the past year. Between the billions of dollars of damage and lives lost in Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the latest school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the media has been busy bringing stories of heartache and triumph.
Nonprofit organizations focused on supporting victims are striving to raise donations and community engagement, but with a limited budget, this is especially difficult. However, it’s not impossible to develop effective nonprofit marketing strategies, as the following nonprofits have shown.
Here are three great examples of how creative marketing strategies can bring some good out of dark times.
The Patriotic Effect for Nonprofit Marketing Strategies
There’s no question the country is incredibly divided. Debates rage on over topics ranging from gun control, to national security, to professional football games. Needless to say, it’s a breath of fresh air to see American public figures finally unite. And that’s exactly what One America Appeal aimed to do.
Their slogan says it all: One Nation. One Appeal. They showed this slogan in action when they enlisted the help of all of the living former presidents. Both Democrats and Republicans participated in the campaign launch through a public service announcement.
Two video ads ran during NFL games with a very specific goal in mind: fund disaster relief in Texas. Since Hurricane Irma struck the southeast and Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the initiative expanded its focus to helping rebuild Florida and Puerto Rico communities as well.
Their nonprofit marketing strategies were effective because they enlisted the help of some of the most respected politicians in history, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Their call-to-action was clear and by using a patriotic tone, the organization encouraged the American people to come together to help rebuild communities. Fundraising has since ended, reaching $42 million.
Marketing tip: Take the current social and political climate into consideration. Then, determine how you can make a positive statement that goes beyond petty political feuds and amplify a message of unity and optimism.
Education Is Empowering
Gun-related debates continue in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland. But amid the heated arguments, gun control groups are seeing a huge rise in donations and volunteers.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound in 2011, started her organization in 2012, which later became known as Giffords. According to reports from The Daily Beast, they raised $1.2 million in the week following the Parkland shooting.
Another organization that saw an increase in support is the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. They already opened three new chapters and also experienced a boost in donations.
Apart from being dedicated to the same cause, these nonprofits all have one thing in common when it comes to their marketing strategy: education.
They create content that informs readers about the prevalence of gun violence in America, as well as how they can support their cause. For example, Sandy Hook Promise created several programs under their Know the Signs content campaign. Each program focuses on facilitating safer communities and schools.
Marketing tip: As you’re determining how to raise funds for your nonprofit cause, don’t forget the value of community engagement. And that starts with education. Create content that empowers your readers to get involved in some way with your cause, even if they can’t do so financially.
Video Captivated Your Audience
Video content continues to be one of the best content formats for engagement. In fact, Hubspot’s "2016 Consumer Behavior Survey" found that 55 percent of people consume video content in a thorough manner—even more so than social media posts and news articles.
So, it’s no wonder why the American Red Cross uses video to address a number of topics. For example, they recorded a video after Hurricane Harvey featuring president and CEO, Gail McGovern, in response to rumors about them misusing donations.
Critics suggested they don’t invest enough of their funding in their humanitarian efforts, so they used video to give their audience a look at how they operate behind the scenes.
The video includes footage of their volunteer operations, as volunteers set up cots, carried relief supplies and transported food and water to affected areas. McGovern also shares financial information, highlighting how $0.91 of every dollar donated went to hurricane victims.
This is effective because it shows the company’s dedication to transparency. Instead of shying away from controversies, they showcased the reality of their operations.
Marketing tip: Use video content to show your audience how their donations benefit victims and your ability to follow the cause of your nonprofit. By exercising transparency, you establish a greater sense of trust with donors.
Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.